Industries emerge from furlough, UK steel market optimistic

A UK service center manager said that market conditions continued to improve as more and more customers returned to work after temporary closing during the quarantine lockdown period.

“This week is better than last week and it’s a 4-day week so demand is improving, we have had one or two large orders from a small list of clients,” he said.

The Platts TSI hot-rolled coil index was assessed down GBP 17.50/mt on the week Friday at GBP 400-420/mt ($494-$530/mt) DDP West Midlands UK.

Demand from the construction sector continued to recover and news that UK house builder Taylor Wimpey had restarted was lifting sentiment.

“Construction is improving, however, the standout area at the moment is point of sale items for the retail sector which uses steel for protective perspex screens in supermarkets,” he said.

This new demand sector would continue to increase as UK employers and retail businesses look to comply with social distancing requirements, the source said.

A mill source said that buyer interest remained low but that this would improve after the extended weekend holiday in the UK.

“Nobody is really looking to buy at the moment and we will not see any improvement until next week,” he said.

“Some customers who have been booking have ordered 25% of their usual volumes as they do not want the risk, however, we are seeing inquiries for July which is positive.”

A UK-based trader source said most end users were looking to come back to work in the next few weeks and would be implementing social distancing measures, and said, “everyone is a bit more optimistic of levels rebounding a little bit come May time. Some customers said that considering what they expected, April was a bit better than it could have been.”

— Amanda Flint, Len Griffin